Ward, Hurricanes prevail over Sabres

Gary A. Vasquez—X02835
Carolina Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The extra time off certainly seemed to help the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night.Three players scored and Cam Ward made 22 saves to lead the Hurricanes to a 3-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres. The win came after the Hurricanes had an unexpected four-day break to open the week. Carolina’s Monday home game against the Detroit Red Wings was postponed due to an ice problem at the team’s PNC Arena.”It didn’t hurt,” said center Jordan Staal. “I thought a lot of guys had some good jump tonight. All through the lineup, everyone was skating well and doing good things.”The Hurricanes dominated the Sabres throughout the game, outshooting Buffalo 34-23 overall. It was Carolina’s second win over the Sabres in the past week; on Saturday, Carolina picked up a 2-1 shootout victory over Buffalo.Jeff Skinner, Justin Faulk and Sebastian Aho scored for Carolina (14-11-7).”We played pretty well,” defenseman Ron Hainsey said. “We were controlling the play really up until the shift they scored in the third. … We seemed to get some breaks with the guys in alone on the goalie that you need to finish. Our guys got some up high and hard and we were on our way.”Johan Larsson scored the lone goal for the Sabres (12-12-8), who had a lackluster outing from top to bottom. Robin Lehner made 31 saves. The Sabres had a four-game point streak come to an end with the loss.”It’s disappointing for us and where we’re at right now and where we’re at in the season, this game should’ve been a desperation game for us,” Sabres head coach Dan Bylsma said.One Sabres move of note came on the power play early in the game. Top forward Jack Eichel was left off the ice for Buffalo’s first power play, in a move that Bylsma said was intended to send both Eichel and the team a message.”What we need to see is what we saw on the first shift of his game that he had tonight,” Bylsma said. “I thought he did have tonight, at times, that speed and electricity with the puck.”After the game, Eichel was clearly dissatisfied. He has no points in Buffalo’s last four games.”It’s not my decision, it’s the coach’s,” Eichel said of being benched during the team’s first power play.Skinner opened the scoring just 1:44 into the game following a defensive miscue by the Sabres, who surrendered the first goal for the sixth consecutive game. The Carolina winger was left all alone in the right circle, where he faked a slap shot and scored on a wrist shot to the far side. It was Skinner’s team-best 13th goal.Faulk made it 2-0 on a 3-on-1 rush following yet another Sabres miscue with 2:09 left in the first period. Right wing Lee Stempniak, a native of the greater Buffalo area, waited for Faulk to arrive in the left circle, and Faulk buried a wrist shot high to the glove side for his sixth goal of the season.Carolina’s dominance continued in the second period when the Hurricanes outshot the Sabres 13-5.Larsson got the Sabres on the board 5:32 into the third period. Center Sam Reinhart waited patiently behind the Carolina net before spotting Larsson in front. Larsson’s quick one-timer cut Carolina’s lead to 2-1.The Sabres had a prime opportunity to even the score on the power play with 6:56 remaining but came up short. Ward made a big save on Eichel’s one-timer with 5:47 remaining.Aho scored an empty-net goal with 59.7 seconds remaining.NOTES: D Cody Franson and LW William Carrier were scratched for the Sabres. Franson was a late scratch. … D Klas Dahlbeck, D Ryan Murphy and C Andrej Nestrasil were scratched for the Hurricanes. … Hurricanes RW Lee Stempniak was born in West Seneca, N.Y., a suburb of Buffalo. He played for the Buffalo Lightning of the Ontario Junior Hockey League in 2000-01. … This was the second of three meetings between the two teams this season, and the only meeting at KeyBank Center. The third and final meeting between Buffalo and Carolina takes place at PNC Arena on Jan. 13.